Three goals, three sendings-off, three injuries, a well-taken penalty, teammates fighting with one another and strange officiating.
This ‘War of the Roses’ battle was absolutely bonkers and without question the strangest, most incident-packed Owls match I have ever covered. You just could not take your eyes off proceedings, particularly in the final 25 minutes. It was extroadinary.
In the end, a moment of madness cost Preston. As the visitors piled on the pressure against the 10-man Owls, things took an unexpected turn in added-on time when teammates Jermaine Beckford and Eoin Doyle clashed with each other. The subs pushed and shoved one another after former Chesterfield striker Doyle, who reduced the deficit in the 82nd minute, failed to play in Beckford for a late chance.
Both raised their hands and referee Scott Duncan, who incensed the home faithful with some of his decision-making, showed Doyle and then Beckford the red card once they had been separated by teammates. It was absolutely brainless from two experienced pros. No wonder manager Simon Grayson was left fuming post-match.
“In 30 years as a player and manager, I have never seen an incident like that between two teammates,” remarked the ex-Owls loanee.
The bust-up was reminiscent of the infamous scrap that broke out between Newcastle midfielders Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer 11 years ago which required both players to be pulled apart. Also think David Batty’s and Graeme Le Saux’s fight at Blackburn.
Beckford and Doyle’s dismissals let the Owls, who earlier had Fernando Forestieri sent off following an altercation with midfielder Ben Pearson, off the hook as they held on for three valuable points.
THE IDEAL START
Wednesday, who named an unchanged starting line-up for the first time this season, made a strong start and it was no surprise when Forestieri bagged the opener in the ninth minute. The little maestro deftly headed in his third goal in as many matches after a scuffed shot by former Preston star Adam Reach, who put in another enterprising display at left-back. The goal had been coming as Forestieri, looking full of confidence, had already twice been thwarted in front of goal.
As the half wore on at a rather flat, subdued Hillsborough, the Owls lost their way a little, with both Ross Wallace and Glenn Loovens being forced off in the space of eight first-half minutes. It definitely disrupted their rhythm.
Callum Robinson’s 20-yard drive struck the post and Aiden McGeady was denied by Keiren Westwood.
Wednesday needed a second goal to put some much-needed daylight between themselves and Preston and Will Buckley missed a glorious chance on the stroke of half-time. With the goal at his mercy, the on-loan winger headed wide after a stunning cross with the outside of his right foot by the irrepressible Forestieri.
FROM SAINT TO SINNER
The Owls were in total control and continued to cause problems in the second period, but Forestieri’s red card changed their gameplan. He was penalised for an off-the-ball incident with Pearson. It is thought Forestieri put his hands in Pearson’s face, but why did the assistant referee only stick his flag up after Pearson had remonstrated with him? Pearson was so angry that he had to be calmed down by Beckford.
Carvalhal claimed the decision was correct and the truth is Forestieri should have known better. It is the second meeting in a row against Preston where he has been sent off and his lack of discipline almost cost the Owls.
Credit Wednesday for sticking together and Chris Maxwell’s daft, clumsy challenge on Buckley saw Steven Fletcher put them 2-0 up from the penalty spot.
Buckley soldiered on despite sustaining a shoulder injury, although there was a period when the Owls were down to nine men.
Preston pulled a goal back through Doyle but eight minutes later he came to blows with Beckford.
“It was absolutely childish behaviour from the pair of them and that has cost us potentially a point from the game, even three points,” blasted Grayson.
“Those two should be embarrassed.
They have let down their teammates and also the fans.”